Definition of yellow in English:



  • 1Of the colour between green and orange in the spectrum, a primary subtractive colour complementary to blue; coloured like ripe lemons or egg yolks.

    ‘curly yellow hair’
    • ‘The bird's colors range from lavender and light and dark blue through green, russet, yellow and orange.’
    • ‘A woman with orange hair wearing a yellow shirt and green tartan waistcoat and trousers plus three enormous poppies.’
    • ‘One had long, dirty blonde hair with piercing blue eyes, and the other had long, golden yellow hair with soft blue green eyes.’
    • ‘One of the bedrooms to the front has a built-in desk and wardrobe and a blue and yellow colour scheme.’
    • ‘The floor and arched walls are covered with blue, green and yellow mosaics.’
    • ‘Initially, the flag was created to fly eight colours; pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and indigo.’
    • ‘Under the light, Nick's thick blond hair glows an eerie yellow and his blue eyes flash luminously as he slowly peruses the area.’
    • ‘His distinctive racing colours of green and yellow hoops have become as synonymous with Cheltenham as the black stuff downed with such enthusiasm by his countrymen.’
    • ‘Smarties originally came in eight colours - red, yellow, orange, green, mauve, pink, light brown and brown.’
    • ‘It is the tail-end of the hottest summer in 150 years and a long streamer in the national colours of blue and yellow flutters in the light breeze of a halcyon September afternoon.’
    • ‘It is even available in bright colours like blue, green, yellow and orange.’
    • ‘The energy levels were represented from weakest to strongest: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red.’
    • ‘It includes the full spectrum of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.’
    • ‘Two colours from widely separated parts of the spectrum (e.g. yellow and blue) may be combined to produce white light.’
    • ‘Bedrooms here are blue and green with orange and yellow day rooms featuring pictures of still lakes and mountains, which promote a feeling of tranquillity.’
    • ‘The two mixed together into one colour - just like yellow and blue become green.’
    • ‘Amber is a light, organic substance that is generally yellow or orange in colour and may be transparent or cloudy.’
    • ‘In her every day life, this up and coming model wears elegant and comfortable clothes in the colours of blue, yellow or green.’
    • ‘Although the red tomatoes were good, the green and yellow ones weren't ripe enough.’
    • ‘It's starting to get light at that time now so it was glowing this sort of orange / yellow colour against a blue winter's sky - it was MASSIVE and very low in sky.’
    yellowish, yellowy, lemon, lemony, amber, gold, golden
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    1. 1.1offensive Having a naturally yellowish or olive skin (as used to describe Chinese or Japanese people).
    2. 1.2 Denoting a warning of danger which is thought to be near but not actually imminent.
      ‘he put Camp Visoko on yellow alert’
      • ‘A five metre high fence, dotted at intervals by yellow danger signs, surrounded the abandoned car park.’
      • ‘The Ouse, in York, still has a yellow flood warning in place and the Derwent at Malton and Norton is very high.’
      • ‘Riverside fairground bosses in York were on full alert today after the Environment Agency issued a yellow flood warning.’
      • ‘‘There's a yellow warning light on the dash,’ I bellowed, like Michael Winner, only angrier.’
      • ‘To top it off, the flagship of stress hormones, cortisol, is running amok through my veins, putting my body on yellow alert for the day.’
      • ‘So lets just say that the blog is being written on yellow alert and I reserve the right to not say everything on the blog.’
      • ‘There's even a couple of yellow radioactivity warning lights for sinister effect.’
      • ‘Bolted to the deck beside it are bright yellow warning signs about the dangers of entering a wreck, and reminding divers that they enter at their own risk.’
      • ‘The highest alert level is red, followed by orange, yellow, blue and green.’
      • ‘Strapped to each one is a wooden stake with a bright yellow hazard tape attached, warning people to stay away.’
      • ‘Tom Ridge's alert level was at yellow before the warnings and it stayed yellow all along…’
  • 2informal Not brave; cowardly.

    ‘he'd better get back there quick and prove he's not yellow’
    • ‘I think I've found a yellow streak amidst your red, white, and blue posturing.’
    • ‘And while yellow symbolises cowardice in the UK and US, it is the colour of mourning in Egypt and Burma.’
    • ‘So go stand on your feet like a man, or whine like the yellow coward that you are.’
    • ‘He is an ordinary candidate whose yellow streak has already shown itself.’
    • ‘Some of the men had gone soft and yellow and turned against them when Cartwright showed up, but that was no problem now.’
    • ‘With this yellow streak in us, where are we heading?’
    • ‘You are just a goddamned coward, you yellow son-of-a-bitch.’
    cowardly, lily-livered, faint-hearted, chicken-hearted, pigeon-hearted, craven, spiritless, spineless, timid, timorous, fearful, trembling, quaking, shrinking, cowering, afraid of one's own shadow, pusillanimous, weak, feeble, soft
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    1. 2.1archaic Showing jealousy or suspicion.
      • ‘To say the least, there seemed to be a tinge of yellow jealousy and envy for one that many had ruled out as a political dinosaur.’
  • 3(of a style of writing, especially in journalism) lurid and sensational.

    ‘he based his judgement on headlines and yellow journalism’
    • ‘Like yellow journalism, it is yellow politics and I am against it.’
    overdramatized, dramatic, melodramatic, exaggerated, overripe, sensationalist, sensationalistic, graphic, explicit, unrestrained, lurid
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  • 1mass noun Yellow colour or pigment.

    ‘the craft detonated in a blaze of red and yellow’
    count noun ‘a wide range of colours from rich vibrant reds, yellows, blues, and greens to more unexpected pastel shades’
    • ‘In 1900 the colours were blue for France, yellow for Belgium, red for the United States and white for Germany.’
    • ‘Although different in shape and size, both are yellow in colour and many children pick up the bomblets thinking they contain food.’
    • ‘Covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their colour combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says.’
    • ‘Huge sticker-boards in bright yellow, blue and red will greet the children as they walk in.’
    • ‘Fresh look yellow has similar features, but is yellow in colour, of course.’
    • ‘The schools new colours are maroon, royal blue and yellow.’
    • ‘I have had a lot of success using the colours red and yellow, while green and blue tend to be very slow in producing runs.’
    • ‘But the traditional colours used for the art remain ochre red and yellow, shades of blue and white and black.’
    • ‘It will be the centenary year of Rotary International and the club intends having baskets of flowers in the movement's colours of blue and yellow.’
    • ‘We had a globe at home, and I half-believed that countries were actually colored red or blue or yellow.’
    • ‘Buildings painted brilliant yellow, ochre, red or green and not looking over the top.’
    • ‘With vibrant colours - bright yellow, dark blue and fresh white - and a catchy jingle it is a commercial worth watching more than once.’
    • ‘Then there are the body colours, chili red, liquid yellow, cool blue, hot orange and for the Cooper S only, hyper blue.’
    • ‘An intense golden yellow in colour, the Churchill is slightly creamer than the non-vintage, with a more mature nose of dried fruit and apricots.’
    • ‘Dark green, ocean blue, metallic greys and whites, black and vibrant flashes of cobalt blue and acid yellow are the season's colours.’
    • ‘Behind the house is a border like a theatre set, its foreground dashed with red, yellow and blue of flowering bushes against a backdrop of a hundred greens.’
    • ‘If you're buying practical loafers, opt for summery shades of sky blue or pale yellow, as seen in Tod's.’
    • ‘They come in the colours of submarine yellow, stadium red, quarry, and black.’
    • ‘Sami loved bikes, lived for them, so we bought him a moped, a 50 cc bike in bright yellow, his favourite colour.’
    • ‘Bright yellow in colour, smeared with splodges of red, several seemed to sprout from one stem, almost like a flower.’
    1. 1.1 Yellow clothes or material.
      ‘everyone dresses in yellow’
      • ‘And schools, businesses and local groups are being encouraged to support the campaign by paying to dress in yellow or holding events.’
      • ‘Please wear black or yellow to symbolize unity, or wear clothing that symbolizes your loved one?’
      • ‘Each morning, she would make sure Ginnia was dressed in fashionable clothes - in her favourite yellow - and always applied a touch of sparkly make-up.’
      • ‘My father had told me to have her look nice, and her blue and pink dress was much more suitable than her old yellow.’
      • ‘When Henry heard of her death, he celebrated at a banquet dressed in bright yellow from head to toes.’
      • ‘To my left stood a young girl dressed in bright orange and yellow.’
  • 2A yellow ball or piece in a game or sport, especially the yellow ball in snooker.

    ‘he missed an easy yellow in frame four’
    • ‘Doherty made it three frames in a row after Hunter missed the frame ball - the final yellow - when leading 62-36.’
    • ‘What happened in that dramatic 13th frame was that Stevens got the yellow with a lucky glance off the pink only to snooker himself on the green.’
    • ‘Williams broke down on a 44 but Hunter could not take advantage as the Welshman potted a long yellow and cleared to the pink to go two up.’
    • ‘He hit breaks of 44, 43, 73 and 70 to progress to the third round, clinching the last frame on the yellow.’
    • ‘In what proved to be the final frame, the Scot looked set to level proceedings with a break of 53 only to miss another yellow and then find himself snookered.’
    • ‘I had a chance again in the last frame as well and felt like I was going to clear up, but I missed a yellow.’
    • ‘Doherty still has a chance of saving the frame but misses the penultimate red when attempting to escape from a snooker behind the yellow.’
    • ‘Fu looked to have had the eighth and final frame of the session sewn up, before snookering himself on the yellow.’
    • ‘Team one throws out the small yellow or white target ball - the pallino - that must roll past the halfway point of the court.’
    • ‘But he missed the final yellow into its own pocket and Hendry accepted his reprieve to take the frame and then the match.’
    • ‘He misses a yellow with just three reds left, and another long safety battle ensues.’
    • ‘Stevens looked to have thrown away the next when he missed the final yellow when 55-33 ahead.’
    • ‘Dott comes in and makes 51-only to miss a difficult yellow.’
    • ‘Both players managed century breaks during the match but the match finally swung in Doherty's favour when he fluked a snooker on the final yellow of the match and Stevens could not escape.’
    • ‘Soon after, Karagounis knobbles Etxeberria and will miss their final game with a yellow of his own.’
    • ‘Frame 24: The ninth seed from Leeds fires a run of 54 but Doherty spurns a golden opportunity to claim a vital frame when he misses the final yellow.’
    • ‘Ebdon had the chance to seal victory in the deciding frame after White missed a yellow.’
    • ‘Gyan collects a yellow for booting the ball into the crowd in protest at a decision going against him.’
  • 3with modifier Used in names of moths or butterflies that are mainly yellow in colour.

    a butterfly related to the brimstones and sulphurs (Eurema, Colias, and other genera, family Pieridae).See also clouded yellow

    a small European moth (several species in the family Geometridae).

  • 4yellowsAny of a number of plant diseases in which the leaves turn yellow, typically caused by viruses and transmitted by insects.

    • ‘Disease problems can include powdery mildew, Botrytis blight, aster yellows, leaf spots, viruses and foliar nematodes.’
    • ‘Leaf hoppers spread the serious grapevine yellows and Pierce's disease and make such disease notoriously difficult to control.’
    • ‘A plant with aster yellows develops weak, yellowing leaves and twisted or distorted stems and flowers.’
    • ‘Their research indicates that aster yellows are the primary disease concern.’
    • ‘Stunted, twisted growth and oddly distorted flowers are the symptoms of aster yellows, a disease which often shows up in midsummer.’


[no object]
  • Become yellow, especially with age.

    ‘the cream paint was beginning to yellow’
    • ‘Pairs of hares scampered and jinked in telepathically close formation; rape fields were yellowing.’
    • ‘Although I would find them much less to my taste nowadays, I still have those novels on my shelf, tattered and yellowed as they are.’
    • ‘It was a mirthless smile, revealing teeth yellowed by smoke and neglect.’
    • ‘There were posters for music groups and singers from ten or twenty years ago, ripped out of magazines, frayed and yellowing.’
    • ‘The pages are yellowing, the leather worn, but the handwriting is still crystal clear.’
    • ‘The sun shone in through the office window, yellowing one of the policemen's trousers.’
    • ‘Inside were a small stack of large negatives in yellowing sleeves, shot in August 1958.’
    • ‘The flowers were bashed and the leaves were yellowing.’
    • ‘All else was a seemingly endless field of grass, tall, yellowing and waving gently in the warm breeze.’
    • ‘More and more people have decided not to put up with yellowing, stained teeth and, instead, are having them bleached into a pearly white grins.’
    • ‘Today she is wearing a man's undershirt, yellowed at the armpits, and pink striped boxer shorts.’
    • ‘A magazine rack beside the counter displayed years-old newspapers, yellowing with age.’
    • ‘I try to keep my expression neutral and my eyes on my food, taking in all the details of the roast potato, slightly yellowed, soaked in gravy.’
    • ‘On return to air these leaves wilted and yellowed rapidly.’
    • ‘He smiled and showed off his sharp fangs, slightly yellowed as any wild cats would be.’
    • ‘There may be yellowing of the eyes and skin due to excessive breakdown of red blood cells.’
    • ‘Upon returning from a short trip, I noticed that the leaves were yellowing.’
    • ‘He's even made the cards sepia-toned, as if they'd slightly yellowed with age.’
    • ‘His thin, white hair was clumped in oily points that yellowed at the tips.’
    • ‘Finally, one turned and Julian Keats found himself looking at letters, yellowing bundles of them, all in chronological order.’


  • the yellow peril

    • offensive The political or military threat regarded as being posed by the Chinese or by the peoples of SE Asia.


Old English geolu, geolo, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch geel and German gelb, also to gold.